Updated: Nov 4, 2020
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INTRODUCTION. When the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled against the high taxes and harsh rule of Solomon's son Rehoboam, they chose Jeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim as their king. Jeroboam soon turned to idolatry as a means to prevent his subjects from returning to Jerusalem to worship, for the city and temple were located in the southern kingdom. He corrupted the worship of God with his golden calves, shrines in high places, priests who were not Levites, and unlawful feast days.
As Jeroboam stood by the altar at Bethel to burn incense during his unlawful feast, a man of God from Judah spoke against the altar. He prophesied that a descendant of David by the name of Josiah would one day pollute and destroy the altar. To prove the prophecy was true he gave a sign the same day–the altar split and the ashes poured out. When Jeroboam in anger put forth his hand against the prophet, his hand withered. When he saw the altar split, he repented and entreated the man of God to heal his hand. When his hand was restored, Jeroboam invited the man of God to come home with him, promising to reward him. The man of God refused saying that the Lord had forbidden him to eat or drink in that place and had commanded him to return to Judah by a different route.
THE PROPHECY OF THE MAN OF GOD FULFILLED. More than three hundred years later, a descendant of David by the name of Josiah became king of Judah. Josiah was a righteous king and attempted to bring the idolatrous people back to God. He went throughout the land destroying the idols and images, the places of idolatrous worship, the altars and shrines to false gods. He removed the idolatrous priests and the articles in the temple used for worshipping idols (II Kings 23:4-25). "Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed" (II Kings 23:15-16).